Highlights from Africa Climate Week: Multilevel governance, a key enabler of a new dispensation for climate ambition and action

Published: 19 Sep 2023
Climate Finance Events Success Stories
Highlights from Africa Climate Week: Multilevel governance, a key enabler of a new dispensation for climate ambition and action

African subnational governments have evidence-based plans and projects to accelerate climate action, but significantly increased funding is needed to implement these at scale.


An unprecedented number of subnational government leaders present at the Africa Climate Week and Summit, held from the 4th to the 8th of September in Nairobi, Kenya called for the mandatory inclusion of subnational governments in the preparation of the next phase of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by 2025, re-emphasising the critical importance of multilevel governance in tackling the climate crisis. 

The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency, Cities Race to Resilience, the COP28 Presidency and other partners co-convened the high-level opening for Africa Climate Week Track 2: Cities, Urban and Rural Settlements, Infrastructure, and Transport. In this session, the resounding message was that African subnational governments have the plans and projects that can enable a new dispensation of climate ambition and action. CoM SSA alone has 310 projects extracted from comprehensive climate action plans, worth an estimated 3 billion EUR, needing further support.
Head of Unit for Climate Finance at DG CLIMA, European Commission Ms Alessandra SGOBBI
During this high-level session, the Head of Unit for Climate Finance at DG CLIMA, European Commission Ms Alessandra SGOBBI, put the spotlight on how important support for project preparation is in taking these city-scale projects from ideas to implementation:
“Over the past few years, the financial support we have provided to prepare feasibility studies at the local level, through CoM SSA and our city investment facility, has leveraged a commitment of 1.4 billion Euro for transformative investments in over 50 cities on the continent.”
The importance of multilevel action in achieving the climate action agenda was made clear by the COP28 Presidency’s Senior Advisor for Programmes and Partnerships, Ms Shahbano Tirmizi who announced that “multilevel action will cut across all thematic days at COP28, and we will also have a specific day for multilevel action, urbanisation and cities on 6 December, and on this day we will also host the 2nd Ministerial Meeting on Urbanisation and Climate Change.”
Cities are first responders in the fight against climate change. There are climate solutions being implemented on the ground in African cities and now is the time to scale them, through collaboration and partnerships.
Director at the Directorate Afrika II, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany), Mr Philipp Knill said “When it comes to implementation, cities are central. We work through city networks like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and ICLEI, promoting partnerships between German and African cities. We can learn a lot from each other.”

CoM SSA Regional Mayors Forum Africa Climate Week Declaration

The CoM SSA Regional Mayors Forum, whose members were elected by their peers and represent the voices of over 350 CoM SSA signatory cities, is currently composed of 11 mayors representing the four regions of sub-Saharan Africa (Southern Africa, Central Africa, Western Africa, and Eastern Africa). On the sidelines of Africa Climate Week, the Regional Mayors Forum met with Ms Carla Montesi, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships, who announced that the European Commission has succeded to mobilise an additional EUR 20 million for the next phase of the CoM SSA initiative which is making a significant impact at the local level. 
At this meeting the RMF members, representing a total population exceeding 150 million people, also developed the CoM SSA RMF Africa Climate Week Declaration, which calls for:
  • increased funding to be made available to prepare local projects that have already been developed and endorsed by African cities, regions and towns.
  • a COP28 decision that mandates the inclusion of subnational governments in the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions in 2024 and 2025.
  • the honouring of national and international commitments to the just energy transition in Africa, and the transfer of the technology, knowledge and financial resources necessary for Africa to harness its renewable energy potential, while simultaneously tackling developmental backlogs and clean cooking and energy access shortfalls.
The RMF Chairperson and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) Board Member, Mayor of Kloto 1 (Togo), Yawo Winny Dogbatse delivered the Declaration at the Africa Climate Week Track 2 high-level opening. Read the full Declaration here.
The RMF members are committed to urgently accelerating urban climate action in sub-Saharan Africa, recognising that the future of the African continent depends on radical collaboration, especially between the Global South and Global North.
[from left to right] Back row: President of the Environmental Commission of Nouakchott (Mauritania): Mr Abderrahmane Ehdaye,
representing the President of the Nouakchott Region, Ms Fatimetou Abdel Malick; Special Advisor to the Mayor of Dire Dawa (Ethiopia): Mr Yusuf Tajudin Abdulahi,
representing Mayor Mr Kedir Juhar; Deputy Governor of Nakuru (Kenya): Mr David Kones, representing the Governor, Ms Susan Kihika; The Mayor of Quelimane (Mozambique):
Dr Manuel de Araújo; The Mayor of Walvis Bay (Namibia): Mr Trevino Forbes; Head of CoM SSA Secretariat: Dr Meggan Spires (Front row): Mayor of Bangui (Central African Republic):
Mr Emile-Gros-Raymond Nakombo; The Vice Chairperson of the RMF and Mayor of Lusaka (Zambia): Ms Chilando Chitangala; Director at the
European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation Ms Carla Montesi;
Lord Mayor of Kampala (Uganda): Mr Erias Lukwago; The Mayor of Garoua III (Cameroon): Dr Abdourrahmane Maïkanti


Tangible examples of multilevel climate action

CoM SSA hosted an Africa Climate Week side event: Multilevel Climate Action in Africa: Tangible examples, ready for scaling, where CoM SSA signatories shared their climate ambitions, plans and experiences. A snapshot of some of the highlights of this session are shown below:
CoM SSA Regional Mayors Forum member, Mayor of Quelimane (Mozambique) said: “We experienced 3 cyclones this year, causing widespread devastation. This emphasises the urgent need for improved disaster preparedness and proactive resilience building. If it wasn’t for mangroves I’m sure my city of Quelimane would not be there. We train our communities and fishermen to protect and restore our mangroves.”
The newest member of the CoM SSA Regional Mayors Forum, Mayor of Walvis Bay (Namibia) highlighted that being a small municipality does not mean that you have small climate ambitions: “Some have over 2.5 million people in their capital city. In Namibia, we have 2.5 million people in the whole country. But we’re taking bold climate change action. For example, we are in the early stages of developing a waste-to-energy project.”

Calling for support in urgently accelerating urban climate action on the continent

Throughout various other engagements and events at Africa Climate Week CoM SSA Mayors and Governors called on the international community to work with African cities in:
  • increasing climate finance accessed directly at the local level,
  • supporting contextually appropriate efforts to scale access to sustainable energy,
  • increasing investment in nature-based solutions at the local level,
  • prioritising the water and sanitation sector in all development efforts on the continent,
  • including the voices of women, indigenous people and youth in decision-making, and
  • strengthening multilevel governance, working together at all levels from the local to the international, to make a tangible difference.
As we move forward to COP28, it is critical that this momentum is not lost and that the urgency ramps up, only then can we ensure that enough finance flows to where it is needed most - the local level.
View CoM SSA’s latest video, Climate action needs climate finance, launched at Africa Climate Week
CoM SSA is co-funded by the European Union (EU), German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
ICLEI Africa hosts the CoM SSA Secretariat.

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